Wednesday, August 29, 2007


A sentry's job is to stand guard--alert at his post--scanning the horizon and peering into the shadows for the approach of the enemy. Yet, we have not been vigilant and find ourselves desperately struggling for the soul of our nation. At times we surely wonder if the tide of battle can be reversed. What are we to do?

Periodically, I read something that grips my heart and cries out to be shared. Such is the following article from Dr. Richard Land. Consider it carefully and prayerfully.

Watchmen on the Wall
By Richard Land - Aug 21, 2007 - comment

“This is what the LORD says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves” (Jer. 6:16 HCSB).

If America dies, she will perish from self-inflicted wounds. It has always been the case and always will be that nations, great nations, die from within, not from without.

That is surely what God’s Holy Word is telling us in Jeremiah 1. God sent His prophet Jeremiah, and there can never have been a more direct command to go than the one Jeremiah received from God. Beginning in verse 5, God said, “I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (HCSB). And then Jeremiah said that God put forth His hand and touched his mouth (v. 9). After God put His own words in Jeremiah’s mouth, He sent him out to speak them to His people, who were in rebellion and in the grip of pagan idolatry.

In Jeremiah 6:13-17 we hear these words: “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is gaining profit unjustly. From prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have treated My people’s brokenness superficially, claiming: Peace, peace, when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they acted so abhorrently? They weren’t at all ashamed. They can no longer feel humiliation. Therefore, they will fall among the fallen. When I punish them, they will collapse, says the LORD. This is what the LORD says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested: We won’t! I appointed watchmen over you and said: Listen for the sound of the ram’s horn. But they protested: We won’t listen!”

In Jeremiah’s day the only real earthly protection that could be afforded to a city was to fortify itself with a wall and place watchmen on it. They would watch through the night and through the day, scanning the horizon. The watchmen were issued trumpets, and at the first sign of trouble, they were to pick up those trumpets and blow a warning blast. The people knew that was their signal to awaken from their slumber or stop their daily activities and defend their homes and families.

In effect, Jeremiah was saying that God’s prophets were his watchmen. They had scanned the horizon looking for any threat, but they had turned and seen that the real threat was inside the walls. The watchmen had taken up their trumpets and blown the warning blasts, telling the people to take notice of what was around them, to ask about the old path and look for the good way, then to find rest by walking in it.

Several years ago a reporter asked me, “We’ve heard a lot from you about what’s wrong with America. What would America look like if it was the way you wanted it to be?” And I replied, “Well, a good place to start would be America in 1955, without the racism and the sexual discrimination against women.”

America in 1955 was a place where the following things did not happen, as they do now:
• Less than half of our children currently grow up in intact families. The divorce rate in America is 45-50 percent for first marriages, 60-67 percent for second marriages, and 70-73 percent for third marriages 1.
• Every year in the last ten years there has been a 400 percent increase in child abuse significant enough to require a doctor’s attention 2.
• Every hour our children watch 20 violent acts on television 3.
• Every day in America nearly 2,800 teenage girls get pregnant 4.
• Every day in America 1,106 of those girls snuff out the lives of their unborn children through abortion 5.
• About 8 out of every 100,000 teenagers committed suicide in 2000. For every teen suicide death, experts estimate there are 10 other attempts 6.
• By the time they graduate from high school, 54 percent of our teenagers acknowledge that they have used one or more illegal drugs 7.
And we are being inundated with a tidal wave of moral relativism that centers on human sexuality.
• At 13.3 billion dollars a year, the 2006 revenues of the sex and porn industry in the U.S. are more than the revenues of professional football, basketball, and baseball combined. Worldwide sex industry sales for 2006 are reported to be 97 billion dollars. To put this in perspective, Microsoft, which sells the operating system used on most of the computers in the world (in addition to other software) reported sales of 44.8 billion dollars in 2006 8.
• One out of every 4 girls and 1 out of every 6 boys in the United States will be sexually molested by the time they reach their 16th birthday 9.
• Somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 46 seconds. Every day 4 women are killed by their domestic partner 10.
• Prior to 1960 there were only two significant sexually-transmitted diseases: syphilis and gonorrhea. Both were easily treatable with antibiotics. In the next two decades this began to change. Today there are approximately 25 STDs, and a few can be fatal. Approximately 1 in 5 Americans between the ages of 15 and 55 are currently infected with one or more STDs, and 12 million Americans are newly infected each year. That’s nearly 5 percent of the entire American population. Of these new infections, 63 percent are in people under the age of 25 11.

Yes, things have changed since 1955. That time certainly had its own problems, but this moral filth was not being poured out into our culture.

When I was a Royal Ambassador growing up in a church in Houston, one of the first passages of Scripture I learned was Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV), “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

What Ephesians 2:10 tells us is that God has a plan and God has a purpose for every single human life that is conceived. But we are like the prodigal son. We as Americans have aborted nearly 50 million babies since 1973 12. Have we aborted the next great evangelist? Have we aborted the one that God sent to find a cure for cancer? Have we aborted the next great military mind, the next great president, the next international peacemaker? Each of those American babies was a child—a child with a future and a purpose, sacrificed to the pagan gods of social convention, career advancement, and material well-being.

I can still remember as a young man in Sunday School having a Bible lesson about how the children of God had become so paganized that they went down into the valley of Gehenna and sacrificed their little children to the pagan god Molech. How could I have ever imagined as a young boy that I would live to see the United States of America offering up its unborn children as pagan sacrifices because they are too expensive, to embarrassing, too ill, or too inconvenient! God help us!

We are the prodigal son. We have taken the inheritance of our unborn children and gone to a far city where we have wasted that inheritance in riotous living. And now we are reduced to feeding among the swine for the husks of life. There is only one hope for America, and that is for us to come to our senses as did the prodigal and shake the filth from ourselves and determine to go home to the Father who is scanning the horizon, waiting for His people to come home.

America is not the America of the fifties. The reporter asked me, “Was it really that good in 1955, or do we just know more now?” And I realized that I might as well have been talking about the time of Louis XIV. The reporter was born some 10 years after 1955, while I was nine years old in 1955. Today’s young people have never experienced America when it was far more right than it is today. And unless we take the initiative to lead them back to the old ways, to the old paths, then surely we will proceed at an ever-accelerating pace toward destruction. If the present trends continue unabated, think about what America will be like 30 or 40 years from now! I become uncomfortable when I read the Corinthian letters because more and more we find ourselves in the same situation in which the Corinthian Christians found themselves—awash in a tide of moral relativity, a tide of sexual paganism, a sexual abyss.

In 1947, C. S. Lewis described the proper composition of a human being in a little book called The Abolition of Man. He said that the head ruled the belly, which was the sensual appetite, through the chest. Lewis defined the chest as consisting of the higher emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments—in other words, being taught the Ten Commandments, not the ten suggestions. Lewis went on to say that the higher emotions of the chest were the absolutely essential liaison between the cerebral and the sensual, and without the chest, human beings became worshipers of their own minds, their own appetites. Lewis also said that moral relativism tears out the chest and removes moral character.

“In a sort of ghastly simplicity, our culture removes the organ and demands the function,” Lewis wrote. “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked when we find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful.” I can think of no better diagnosis for what has happened to a generation and a half of Americans whose fathers and mothers and aunts and uncles and grandfathers and leaders lost their moral compass and lost their moral way and are adrift on a turbulent ocean of relativism.

Yet when we believers try to stand up and speak the truth, we are told, “Oh, you can’t do that! That’s a violation of separation of church and state!” Nonsense! Foolish and dangerous nonsense!

John F. Kennedy once said the greatest enemy of truth is often not the lie—deliberate, contrived, and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic 13. And it is a persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic myth to say that you can’t legislate morality. All law is the legislation of someone’s morality.

Romans 13 says that we are to have civil government to punish those who do evil and reward those who do right. You have to legislate morality in order to do that. When we pass laws making murder and theft and rape and racism illegal, we are not so much trying to impose our morality on murderers and thieves and rapists and racists as we are trying to keep them from imposing their immorality on their victims. That is not only our right; it is also our obligation.
When Abraham Lincoln was running for the presidency of the United States in another time of great moral crisis, he got a lot of criticism for making slavery an issue. Here’s what he said in 1860, in the midst of the presidential campaign: “You will not let us do a single thing as if it was wrong: there is no place where you will allow it to be even called wrong. We must not call it wrong in the free States, because it is not there, and we must not call it wrong in the slave States, because it is there; we must not call it wrong in politics, because that is bringing morality into politics, and we must not call it wrong in the pulpit, because that is bringing politics into religion . . . ” Lincoln concluded by saying, “There is no single place, according to you, where this wrong can properly be called wrong 14.” I’m glad Abraham Lincoln didn’t listen to his critics.
We have allowed ourselves to believe this lie that somehow Christians don’t have a right and an obligation to be involved in public policy, and we have withdrawn and left the field to those who do not care to hear our faith-based convictions. And we are reaping the consequences. There was a study done several years ago to determine which were the most religious countries in the world. They came to the conclusion that India was the most religious country in the world and Sweden was the least religious country in the world. When Peter Berger, the famous sociologist, was told of this, he commented that if India is the most religious country in the world, and Sweden the least religious, then America is a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes 15. There’s a great deal of tragic truth in that. Do you know whose fault that is? It’s our fault! It’s our fault for not being willing to get involved and to be part of the process.

Jesus told us we are the salt and the light of the world. Salt is a purifying agent and a preservative, but it must come into contact with that which it would purify and preserve. And it not only purifies and preserves, it also stings and irritates. That’s why when Jesus said we were to be salt and light, He preceded it by saying, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matt. 5:11).
I grew up in Southern Baptist churches where it was often said, “Now, we’re Southern Baptists. That means we don’t get involved in anything controversial. We just preach the Gospel.” Folks, that’s an oxymoron. And as a graduate of Oxford, I want you to know that an oxymoron is not a moron who went to Oxford. An oxymoron is when you take two seemingly contradictory descriptions and use them to describe the same thing. Take “humble Texan,” for example. It is just as much of an oxymoron to say “noncontroversial Christian.” If we’re being salt and light then we are going to be controversial. Jesus intended for us to be controversial! In the first century Christians were known as the people who turned the world upside down, which means they were turning the world upside right.

There has been a conscious, concerted, and clever attempt by some in our country to marginalize Christians and drive them from involvement in the public policy of this nation. We must not allow them to keep us from our rightful place in the public square.

We must convince Christians to run for elected offices at every level, then encourage them to act on their faith-based convictions while they are in office. We must walk, talk, and vote our values. We must elect those who will appoint judges who understand that the Constitution is what governs us, not judges’ opinions about the Constitution.

We must have revival. America is too far gone for anything else to save us. We must have a heaven-sent, Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, Cross-focused, life-changing revival, or we are doomed.

I hope you are familiar with the song “Statue of Liberty.” It has special meaning to me. I had been back in America for three days after three years in England. I had moved to Dallas to take a position at Criswell College, and I was taken to Family Night at the Music Hall at Fair Park. They were having their God-and-Country celebration, and it culminated with a rousing rendition of that great song, which says “A rugged cross is my Statue of Liberty 16.” As the screen showed the Statue of Liberty, the song talked about the blessings of being an American. I just broke down and wept.

We live, by the grace of God, in the most blessed country on earth. God has blessed us wonderfully. But He has often blessed us in spite of ourselves. Our salvation will never be in America but in the Cross of Jesus Christ. We must have a revival, and it must be a revival, a revival that blossoms into an awakening and becomes a reformation. It’s too late for just a revival. The revival has got to come first, but the revival and the awakening have got to be applied to our government and to our culture. It has to be from the inside out! It has to be a regeneration of our nation through a regeneration of its people that culminates in a reformation that shakes America as Luther and Calvin shook Europe and Whitfield and Wesley shook England and Edwards shook Colonial America for Jesus Christ.

Government can’t save us. Government is usually part of the problem, not part of the solution. King Josiah is the perfect example that the government cannot bring revival. King Josiah heard the Word of God, and it broke his heart. He called for reforms. He instituted right and holy worship in the temple. He got rid of pagan excesses. He instituted true religion. And what happened? All of Josiah’s reforms died with him because only the king’s heart was changed. The people’s habits were changed, but their hearts were not. When the king died, the reforms died.
We have a right, we have a responsibility, and we have an obligation to be involved in the civic process. Jesus commanded us to be salt and light. But we must always remember that while the salt of the law can change actions, only the light of the Gospel can change attitudes. The salt of the law can change behaviors, but it is only the light of the Gospel that can change beliefs. The salt of the law can change habits, but it is only the light of the Gospel that can change hearts.
My dear brothers and sisters, when we are in crisis there is always a danger that we will turn to the government and try to make the government our ally. And it is a danger to say, “If we can just get the government to sponsor our religion, we can bring about revival.” That always has been and always will be a fatal bargain. When the government sponsors religion, the government thinks it owns religion. When the government puts its arm around you and embraces you, it’s like being squeezed by a python. You lose all life and vitality and eventually drop dead.

Government-sponsored religion is government-dictated, government-deluded religion. We don’t want the government to sponsor religion! We want the government to quit suppressing our right to be involved. We want the government to guarantee a level playing field and then to get off the field! Does that mean that false religions have the same rights to express their opinions and their beliefs as we do? Sure. Let them come. I never saw Elijah backing away from a confrontation with the prophets of Baal. He just showed them the power of the One True God!
Let us never forget our Baptist heritage. America will never get the proper role of religion in society right without Baptists and our heritage. It’s in our genetic code to mistrust government when they come to us and say, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.” With government sponsorship, with government favoritism, comes government control. The Baptist Faith and Message says the church should never resort to the state to do its work. It’s our job. It’s our privilege. It’s our work to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But when we preach that Gospel, and God has blessed it and people’s hearts and minds have been changed, then they have the right as citizens to come forth in the public arena and say, “This is wrong, and we want it stopped.”

For example, abortion is the murder of babies, and we want laws to change it. When we convince a majority of Americans that we are right, that’s not called a theocracy, that’s called the democratic process.

God knows that I love my country, but Christians, our hope is not in America. America’s hope is in Christ. Ask not what your country can do for God. Ask what God can do for your country. And the answer, of course, is everything.

Southern Baptists, let’s heed the call to stand in the gap and repair the hedge and claim the promise of God when He said, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14, NIV). May there be a new birth of freedom, may there be a new birth of morality, may we stand in the ways and see the old paths and heed the watchmen on the wall.

The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). The vision is the Chazon, the entirety of the Word of God, and it is our job to proclaim and preach the Gospel. It is no one else’s responsibility. It’s the job of those who name the name of Christ. The Cross is our liberty and our salvation.

God bless you, God bless your family, and God bless the United States of America.

Richard Land is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. This is adapted from his 1997 Southern Baptist Convention sermon, with updated statistics.

1 Divorce Statistics [online] 2004 [cited 22 April 2007].
2 National Incidence Study [online] 2006 [cited 22 April 2007].
3 Children and Television Violence [online] 15 April 2007 [cited 22 April 2007].
4 Statistics on Teens [online] 20207 [cited 22 April 2007].
5 Teen Statistics [online] n.d. [cited 22 April 2007].
6 Teen Suicide Statistics [online] 2005 [cited 22 April 2007].
7 Preventing Teen Drug Abuse [online] 2007 [cited 22 April 2007].
8 Statistics and Information on Pornography in the US [online] 2005 [cited 22 April 2007].
9 Keep Your Children Safe [online] n.d. [cited 22 April 2007].
10 Stop Violence [online] 2006 [cited 22 April 2007].
11 The Epidemic of Sexually Transmitted Diseases [online] July 2002 [cited 22 April 2007].
12 Abortion in the United States: Statistics and Trends, National Right to Life [online], n.d. [cited 2 April 2007].
13 John F. Kennedy [online] 21 April 2007 [cited 22 April 2007].
14 Slavery the Snake of the Union Bed Speech at New Haven, Conn. March 6, 1860 [online] 2007 [cited 22 April 2007].
15 Philip E. Johnson. Books in Review: The Culture of Disbelief [online] December 1993 [cited 22 April 2007].
16 Neil Enloe. Statue of Liberty [online] n.d. [cited 22 April 2007].

Monday, August 13, 2007


Questions, questions—people always have questions and one that I have gotten several times is, “What about Freemasonry?” Some of you will react, “Well, what about it?” as in, “What is it and why does it even matter?” Others will have some vague idea, but only a mild curiosity—they won’t lose sleep over it. A few members may be irritated that it is even mentioned as they are involved in it and will say, “It’s a fraternal organization, not a religion, and I don’t think it needs to be discussed in church.” At the opposite end of the spectrum, another small segment of members say it’s a cult, must be exposed, and even to blame for the spiritual ills of the church.

So, with most members oblivious or at least ambivalent, and with the potential for two vocal groups to be antagonized over the issue, why bring it up? Surely we are not obligated to discuss everything that someone wants to make a major issue. I mean if you think only Republicans are going to heaven, or are sure that if you’re not a Democrat you’re going to hell, must we get into a big debate over the burning question of drilling for more oil in Alaska? You may have an opinion, and I do, but how does it really fit in with the mission of Pole Creek? Is it worth the time and energy to discuss?

The fact is that I am not getting near the amount of questions and concerns about drilling for oil in Alaska as I am about Freemasonry. It does have a spiritual dimension. As the Senior Pastor of this church, I have a responsibility to address such questions when they are presented. So, here goes!

Have you ever eaten “Grape Nuts”? Well, that cereal is neither grapes, nor nuts! Freemasonry is not simply a fraternal organization nor is it a cult—neither. It has religious overtones that bother me. Just about everything they do has some religious connotation—and it isn’t clearly Christian, either. You can be a Moslem and have a Koran in your lodge. You can be a Jew and have the Torah. You can be a Christian and have a Bible. You must believe in a Supreme Being—that’s it. That is troublesome to me because I am convinced that without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you are lost. Such theological discussions are prohibited in the Lodge, I understand. If I am silent about my faith when it comes to discussing it with a fellow member of the Craft, do I really care about their soul? This isn’t an accusation—just a question. Listening to the religious message of Freemasonry’s rituals, one could conclude that salvation is by works. My first exposure to this was as a young preacher observing their burial ceremony at a graveside. As I listened what I heard was that the fellow in the casket was going to the Celestial Lodge because he wore the apron of a mason and did a lot of good deeds. Yet, Scripture clearly teaches that salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone. These teachings of the Lodge and the church are at odds.

Having said that, two of the finest Christians I have known have been Freemasons. Their faith was evident, their commitment to Christ and his church clear cut, and to suggest that these men were so spiritually blind as to be part of a cult, satanic group, etc. is insulting to intelligence. Were they fooled? Maybe—but I could only wish for more members like them, for they excelled in devotion to the Lord, His church, and yes, to their pastor.

Several years ago, at the Southern Baptist Convention, a statement concerning Freemasonry was adopted. Here it is:

Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Three
One Hundred Thirty-Sixth Session,
One Hundred Forty-Eighth Year
Houston, Texas, June 15-17, 1993
Prepared by
David W. Atchison, Recording Secretary of the Convention
Distributed by
Morris H. Chapman, President & Chief Executive Officer
901 Commerce Street
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
Freemasonry Report
Motion Concerning Freemasonry
In annual session of the Baptist Convention, June 9-11, 1992 the following motion was approved:
The Southern Baptist Convention in annual session June 9-11, 1992, at Indianapolis, Indiana, directs the Interfaith Witness Department of the Home Mission Board to study the compatibility with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine of the organization known variously as the Masonic Lodge, Masonry, Freemasonry, and or Ancient and Accepted Right [sic] of Freemasonry. The study is to encompass any and all branches and or lodges thereof. Furthermore, the convention charges the Home Mission Board with the responsibility of bringing a report with recommendation to the Convention which is to meet in Houston, Texas, June 1993.
We report
That the Interfaith Witness Department of the Home Mission Board (HMB) has completed a study of Freemasonry and its various branches, as directed by the Convention, with special attention given to the compatibility of Freemasonry with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine. The study has been reviewed by the HMB Executive Council (president and vice presidents), by the Board of Directors' Administrative Committee (officers and committee chairmen), and by the Board of Directors of the HMB. The study has now been published as a 75-page document and is available for purchase on a cost-recovery basis from the Home Mission Board.1
We further report
That the Administrative Committee of the Board of Directors has prepared this printed report to the Convention and that it has been reviewed and approved by action of the Board of Directors, meeting March 17, 1993, in Atlanta, Georgia.
We commend
The Masonic Order for its many charitable endeavors such as the operation of 22 Shriners hospitals, 19 orthopedic hospitals, and 3 burns institutes with noteworthy success in treatment, research, and education, often providing free treatment to children under 18 years of age. Also, we commend support of the Foundation for the Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Children and the Eastern Star sponsorship of Masonic Homes for the Aged. These, with many other charitable and benevolent endeavors, are commendable.
We acknowledge
That many outstanding Christians and Southern Baptists now are, and in the past have been, Masons, including such notable past Southern Baptist leaders as B.H. Carroll, George W. Truett, L.R. Scarborough, W.T. Connor, Louie D. Newton, and J.B. Lawrence.
We recognize
That many of the tenets and teachings of some Grand Lodges could be considered compatible with, and even supportive of, Christian faith and practice, such as the strong emphasis on honesty, integrity, industry, and character and the insistence that every member believe in God. Some Grand Lodges have written into their monitors, guidelines, and rituals explicit references to Christian faith, including exact quotes from the Bible, such as in the ritual constituting a new lodge in the Monitor of the Lodge of the Grand Lodge of Texas:
I now solemnly consecrate this lodge to the honor and glory of Jehovah, the Grand Architect of the Universe.2
Or the explicit reference to Jesus in the Masonic Code of the Grand Lodge of Alabama:
It is therefore proper and in accordance with Masonic law and tenets for a Mason who believes in the Christ Jesus to offer prayers in the Lodge in His Name.3
Or the ceremony for laying a cornerstone found in The Murrow Masonic Monitor of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma:
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.4
Or the ceremony of the extinguishing of the lights, a Scottish Rite ceremony held on Maundy Thursday:
My Brethren, this is the anniversary of that Last Supper of which Jesus of Nazareth partook with His humble disciples, after which He was betrayed and crucified.
Who, of any creed, can picture to himself, unmoved, that noble and sweet countenance, which never looked on anything in anger, pale with agony, and streaming with tears? His back was torn by the lash, His brow pierced by the thorns. He suffered, willingly, until it seemed, even to Him, that His God and Father had forsaken Him.
And yet, even then, bruised, hanged upon a cross, betrayed by one He loved, suffering and, for a moment, questioning, He still calls down not curses by blessings and a prayer for forgiveness upon those who had so treated Him.5
Or that found in the Scottish Rite 18th degree:
Wherein they [older forms of religion] were deficient [Masonry] found in the New Law of Love, preached by Jesus of Nazareth, and which He sealed with His blood.6
Or the strong affirmation of the Bible found in the North Carolina Lodge Manual:
The Holy Bible is given us as the rule and guide of faith . . . the Bible is the light which enlightens the path of our duty to God.7
Or that found in the Louisiana Masonic Monitor:
However they may differ in creed or theology, all good men are agreed that within the covers of the Holy Bible are found those principles of morality which lay the foundation upon which to build a righteous life. . . . It is the one volume which has lived in the hearts of the people, molding and shaping their destinies; and it leads the way to Him who is the Light of the world.8
Or the words of the chaplain in the funeral service found in the Masonic Manual of the Grand Lodge of Georgia:
I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.9
To be sure, not all Grand Lodges affirm Christian doctrine, and many do not declare Jesus as the unique Son of God; but many do, and for this we commend them. There is not complete uniformity in tenets or practice among lodges.
We conclude
That many tenets and teachings of Freemasonry are not compatible with Christianity or Southern Baptist doctrine, including:
1. The prevalent use of offensive concepts, titles, and terms such as Worshipful Master for the leader of a lodge; references to their buildings as mosques, shrines, or temples; and the use of words such as Abaddon and Jah-Bul-On, the so-called secret name of God. To many, these terms are not only offensive but sacrilegious.
2. The use of archaic, offensive rituals and so-called bloody oaths or obligations, among these being that promised by the Entered Apprentice:
All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, . . . binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my throat cut from ear to ear, my tongue torn out by its roots, and buried in the sands of the sea, at low water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-five hours, should I, in the least, knowingly or wittingly violate or transgress this my Entered Apprentice obligation.10
Or that of the Fellow Craft degree:
All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, . . . binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my left breast torn open, my heart plucked from thence, and given to the beast of the field and the birds of the air as prey, should I, in the least, knowingly or wittingly, violate or transgress this my Fellow Craft obligations.11
Or that of the Master Mason:
All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, . . . binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my body severed in two, . . . my bowels torn from thence and burned to ashes, and these scattered before the four winds of heaven, that no more remembrance might be had among men or Masons of so vile a wretch as I should be, should I, in the least, knowingly or wittingly violate or transgress this my Master Mason obligation. So help me God and keep me steadfast.12
Or that of other advanced degrees with required rituals considered by many to be pagan and incompatible with Christian faith and practice.
Even though these oaths, obligations, and rituals may or may not be taken seriously by the initiate, it is inappropriate for a Christian to sincerely promise and swear, with a hand on the Holy Bible, any such promises or oaths, or to participate in any such pagan rituals.
3. The recommended readings, in pursuance of advanced degrees, of religions and philosophies, which are undeniably pagan and/or occultic, such as much of the writings of Albert Pike, Albert Mackey, Manly Hall, Rex Hutchins, W.L. Wilmshurst, and other such authors; along with their works, such as Morals and Dogma, A Bridge to Light, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, and The Meaning of Masonry.
4. The reference to the Bible placed on the altar of the lodge as the furniture of the lodge, comparing it to the square and compass rather than giving it the supreme place in the lodge.13
5. The prevalent use of the term Alight, which some may understand as a reference to salvation rather than knowledge or truth.
6. The implication that salvation may be attained by one's good works, implicit in the statement found in some Masonic writings that Masonry is continually reminded of that purity of life and conduct which is necessary to obtain admittance into the Celestial Lodge above where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.14 Even though many Masons understand that the purity of life and conduct can only be achieved through faith in Jesus Christ, others may be led to believe they can earn salvation by living a pure life with good conduct.
7. The heresy of universalism (the belief all people will eventually be saved), which permeates the writings of many Masonic authors, which is a doctrine inconsistent with New Testament teaching.15
8. The refusal of most lodges (although not all) to admit for membership African-Americans.
In light of the fact that many tenets and teachings of Freemasonry are not compatible with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine, while others are compatible with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine, we therefore recommend that consistent with our denomination's deep convictions regarding the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church, membership in a Masonic Order be a matter of personal conscience. Therefore, we exhort Southern Baptists to prayerfully and carefully evaluate Freemasonry in light of the Lordship of Christ, the teachings of the Scripture, and the findings of this report, as led by the Holy Spirit of God.
1. Proceedings, Annual of the Southern Baptist Contention 1992,
(Nashville: Executive Committee, 1992), p. 86.
2. Monitor of the Lodge (Waco: Grand Lodge of Texas, 1982), p. 148.
3. Masonic Code (Grand Lodge of Alabama, 1963), p. 141.
4. The Murrow Masonic Monitor (Guthrie: Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, revised 1988), p. 190.
5. Ritual of the 15E to the 18E of the Scottish Rite (no publisher information, 1957), p. 251.
6. Ibid., p. 145.
7. Charles F. Bahnson, North Carolina Lodge Manual (Raleigh: Edwards & Boughton Co., 1929), p. 14.
8. Louisiana Masonic Monitor (Walker, La.: Lavergne's River Parish Press, 1988), pp. 24-26.
9. Masonic Manual of the Grand Lodge of Georgia (Macon: Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Georgia, 1973), pp. 145-146. (Macon: Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Georgia, 1973), pp. 145-146.
10. Ralph P. Lester, ed. Look to the East: A Ritual of the First Three Degrees of Masonry (Chicago: Ezra A. Cook Publishing, Inc., 1975), p. 96.
11. Ibid., p. 31.
12. Ibid., pp. 154-155.
13. Monitor of the Lodge (Waco: Grand Lodge of Texas, 1982), pp. 30-31.
Also see Louisiana Masonic Monitor, pp. 24-26.
14. Louisiana Masonic Monitor, p. 79.
15. Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Washington, D.C.: Prepared for the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree for the Southern Jurisdiction, A.A.S.R., U.S.A., 1964), p. 847.

Based on these findings and other matters that I have studied, I could not in good conscience be a member of the Masonic Lodge. It would also be my desire that those who are part of this organization strongly pray and consider about withdrawing from it. If someone in our church has been approached about joining, I would counsel against it. The danger here is, in part, the increasing culture of tolerance in our world that sees all faiths as valid. There is today, a watering down of truth and rejection of doctrine—an “I’m OK; you’re OK” theology. It is going to be increasingly easy to slide that direction rather than resist the tide. Would being a Freemason make it easier or more difficult in the days to come to buy into this universalism—the one world religious system that many are clamoring for and the Bible predicts will come in the last day? What do you think?

Having said that, we must also recognize that there are matters about which Christians may disagree on, and that after showing charity and giving careful consideration may just have to agree to disagree. A harsh, judgmental spirit is never called for and never helpful. Paul said,
23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:23-26 NIV)

With this in mind, I am not planning on unleashing a broadside against the Lodge from the pulpit. I don’t see anything constructive happening from that. I am willing to discuss this issue with anyone, pro or con. There is not a member of this church that I don’t love and care about. The danger is that you can read type on a page and miss the heart of the one writing.

Bottom line: If you are a member of the Lodge or have a loved one who is, please don’t see this as a personal attack. Prayerfully consider your involvement in Freemasonry—that’s all I would ask. If you are strongly opposed to Freemasonry, be kind and gentle in your attitudes and words. Our desire is not to drive people away, but build them up. Above all, let’s neither compromise the truth, nor create a brawl. I don’t think we must choose. Both sharing truth and showing love are vital for Christians!

I doubt this makes everyone happy. But, that can’t be my intent. There is but One I must please—the dear Lord Jesus. Paul put it this way,
1 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.
2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.
4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NIV)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Here's a powerful video clip that dramatically shows how Christ will deliver us from evil.